A South African university has instructed the Wellcome Sanger Institute to return DNA samples it has that were collected from indigenous African communities, The Times reports.
According to The Times, officials from Stellenbosch University say the Sanger sought to commercialize samples that had been provided to it to study "population history and human evolution." Researchers from African universities and the Lebanese American University collected these samples from indigenous populations, including the Nama people, solely for research and not for commercialization, it adds.
But in a letter sent to the Sanger, the Stellenbosch officials say they learned the Sanger was in talks with Thermo Fisher to develop a commercial research tool based on these samples and that this "raises serious legal and ethical consequences," as The Times reports.
The Sanger denies the allegations and says it did not breach its agreement, according to The Times. It adds that the Sanger says that a person working at the institute proposed the commercialization work, but that the institute did not pursue it.